The wait was more than worth it for Matt Krook and his St. Ignatius teammates.
Last Saturday in the Bruce-Mahoney baseball game at AT&T Park — the game couldn’t be played at AT&T the last two years because of rain — the Wildcats won a thrilling 8-7 decision over Sacred Heart Cathedral. Krook, who is one of the best dual-threat players in the Central Coast Section, actually had by far his roughest start of the season, allowing six runs over three-plus innings. However, the burly 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior more than made up for it when he delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit, a run-scoring single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“As much as I’d like to say it was just another game, playing at AT&T Park was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” said Krook, who entered the game with a 0.78 ERA. “Pitching in front of our student body is a lot different than other league games, where it’s mostly parents (who are in attendance). It was an absolute thrill.”
Krook, who has earned a scholarship to play at Oregon, had star material written all over him from the moment he picked up a baseball. Krook excelled at every level leading up to high school, and he immediately made an impression with the St. Ignatius coaching staff. Krook earned a spot on varsity as a sophomore, which is atypical at a baseball-rich school like St. Ignatius.
“If you’re going to bring up a sophomore, the player has to have talent, and that’s something Matt has in reserve,” Wildcats coach Matt Stecher said. “I knew he had the ability to compete, and that’s something he’s done since Day One.”
The left-handed Krook bats in the cleanup spot — he hit .404 with two home runs and 16 RBIs last season — but it’s his skills on the mound that have Oregon particularly excited. Krook’s fastball has been clocked at 91 mph, and he keeps hitters off-balance with a wicked curveball and slider.
“I’ll throw my curve and slider in all counts,” Krook said. “I’m not afraid to throw a 3-2 curveball.”
Indeed, Stecher said one of Krook’s greatest attributes is his fearlessness on the mound and at the plate.
“He’s got a great presence as a hitter and pitcher,” Stecher said. “We look at him as a game-changing bat because he can just crush the ball. He’s not a guy of many words, but he speaks with his actions. He’s serious about his craft and doesn’t half a** it when he gets on the field.”
The Wildcats (9-3) play Cabrillo of Lompoc in the San Luis Obispo tournament at 11 a.m. today.